Inbound marketing takes months, even years, to start producing meaningful results. That’s the truth.
And you can take it from us. Our firm has been blogging since 2009, we generate more site traffic than many successful ecommerce sites, and we have thousands of people download our eBooks per year.
In other words, we generate the attention most businesses can only dream of, and that alone is not enough to say we're wildly successful at inbound marketing. Because while all the attention is nice, turning it into actual business is the second, and more difficult half of the equation.
But before we can talk about how to turn attention into business, let's start with how to generate attention - and why it's more difficult than it sounds.
To do this, consider how the methodology works:
Inbound marketing works by attracting people to your site who are early in the buying process. Then, using a combination of content, nurturing, and follow ups, stays with that person through the buying funnel until they are ready to purchase.
Because the buying process can take days, weeks, or even months, a marketing strategy which moves with that person through the entire process will take equally as long.
Furthermore, content capable of producing upper funnel leads takes time. It begins with producing remarkable content. Then, you need people to see that content. Finally, you need to get that audience to subscribe or provide their email address so you can stay connected with them. Each of these steps is its own endevour with lots of trial and error.
The methodology works, and it’s proven to be very successful.
But it takes time.
So for those who lack patience, other tactics must be deployed to produce meaningful results quickly. Below are four tactics to deploy at the beginning of your inbound marketing in order to accelerate results.
Paid Social Advertising To Drive Immediate Traffic
While my firm generated visibility to our blog strictly through organic tactics (rankings and shares), you can accelerate this attention by paying for your traffic (in fairness, social advertising didn't exist for us in 2009).
Social advertising is quickly becoming one of the top tactics for exposure and direct response. By 2017, social media ad spending is likely to exceed $35 billion. For businesses just beginning an inbound marketing program, paid social advertising can buy you massive visibility to a very specific segment of users. Here’s how you can use it.
Let’s say you sell bee hive kits online. You’ve written a blog post called “From Zero to Honey In One Year.” The post explains the process of getting up and running with your own bee colony.
You want to get more visibility to this blog post, because those who are interested in this content will eventually purchase a beehive kit.
Your research says those who buy beehive kits 1) live in suburban and rural communities and 2) like organic food, but are not vegan. Using this data, you can set up an audience in Facebook targeting these specific interests and set geographic targeting outside major cities. The image for your ad shows a beehive kit in a large, rural backyard to match your target demo.
On Facebook, the cost of boosting a post is can be $5-$10 per thousand impressions, or $3-$5 per click, depending on the audience you’re targeting.
The top social platforms capable of showing ads are Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
Paid Search To Increase Search Visibility
Paid search works similar to paid social advertising, but instead of targeting users based on who they are, you target based on what they search in Google or Bing.
In the example above, you can buy keywords related to your content to drive visibility to your blog. For example, you might buy keyphrases like “how long to produce honey,” or “starting a beehive.” Once Google or Bing naturally rank your blog for its targeted keywords, you can stop paying for the traffic.
Paid search is nothing new, and most businesses with a website have tried it at some point. But for those businesses looking to build an inbound marketing campaign from scratch, paid search can produce steady, predictable results while you wait for your content to gain visibility through rankings and social media.
Cold Calling To Drive Upper Funnel Prospects
Cold calling is another effective tactic for generating leads while you wait for your content marketing is in its infancy.
The primary purpose of cold calling is to generate a sale or follow up appointment. If you are unable to achieve one of those two objectives, you can instead acquire their email in exchange for some valuable information. After sending them a follow up email, you can begin nurturing that prospect with more relevant, targeted email messaging. Marketing automation tools like Hubspot can simplify and scale this process. These light touch interactions will warm up your prospects prior to the next follow up call.
This approach allows you to experiment with and build out different lead nurturing workflows using your cold call prospects. Then, when your content marketing starts producing its own leads, you have several assets already developed and ready to deploy.
Read more about using cold calling with inbound marketing.
Leveraging An Existing Database
You don’t need to wait for content marketing if you already have a large database at your disposal.
A database of former customers and prospects is a goldmine of opportunity. Unlike leads generated through content marketing, these individuals are already aware of your company. Not only are they familiar with you, you also know something about them.
Instead of letting these contacts sit idle in your database, send them valuable content related to what they do or who they are. Segment them by opportunity, isolate those who respond favorably, then develop a plan for re-engaging them offline. Former customers and cold leads can be re-engaged for new business. Current customers can be cross-sold with new products and services related to what they currently have.
Bonus resource: Implement these online cross-selling methods to increase value of your existing database members.
Make no mistake: the process of developing an effective inbound marketing campaign is messy and time-consuming. Producing remarkable content is hard. Learning how to turn traffic into leads is hard. And nurturing those leads into customers is harder still.
While you wait for a longer term strategy to gain momentum, deploy any of the four tactics above to generate immediate activity and results.
Have some additional ideas on how to generate some early inbound marketing wins? Leave a comment below.